Labour Research October 2004

Features: Equality

Domestic violence: the financial cost

Domestic violence is costing employers and employees around £2.7 billion a year in time taken off work, according to a recent report prepared for the government.

Written by Professor Sylvia Walby of the University of Leeds, The cost of domestic violence further estimates that the "human and emotional costs" of domestic violence - the pain and suffering involved - amount to £17 billion a year, and that the cost to services such as health and criminal justice is another £3 billion.

The amount lost through time off work is borne both by employees, who lose pay and possibly employment, and employers, who may be paying wages during the employee's absence with physical or mental injuries.

The estimates are based on crime statistics showing that 102 women and 23 men die from domestic violence a year, and 115,000 women and 17,000 men suffer serious injuries.

Deputy women's minister Jacqui Smith said: "This groundbreaking research shows we are all affected by domestic violence. It's a clear challenge to employers and agencies to take this as seriously as we do.

"We have worked with the TUC to produce workplace guidance on how employers can give practical help to those affected by domestic violence."

Current government measures to tackle domestic violence include:

* new laws to strengthen the rights of victims and bring offenders to justice;

* training for police officers and staff of the Crown Prosecution Service who deal with victims and their families; and

* increased funding for new refuge schemes.